Daft Punk and Electric Wizard return, Yeasayer scores on its first time out
Daft Punk Alive 2007 (Virgin) The French electronic duo Daft Punk didnâ’t need to record any new material for its comeback from the desultory 2005 album Human After All. The groupâ’s summer tour of the United States was a gigantic LED spectacle, and Kanye West sampled their 2001 hit â“Harder, Faster, Better, Strongerâ” for his own recent hit â“Stronger.â” That seemed enough to restore Daft Punkâ’s reputationâ"and now a new live album could make them bigger than ever. Alive 2007, a bookend to the similarly named Alive 1997, has all the hitsâ"â“Harder, Faster,â” â“Oh Yeah,â” â“Aerodynamicâ”â"but it also features several tracks from Human After All, and they work better here than they did on their own two years ago. The hard, forbidding tone of â“Robot Rockâ” and â“Human After Allâ” is balanced by the buoyant dance-pop of â“Around the Worldâ” and the luxuriant disco anthem â“One More Time,â” which is broken up by a lengthy synth version of a guitar solo. Itâ’s a near-perfect set-list, rising and pausing but never falling, and itâ’s a sneaky way for Daft Punk to right itself for whatever it does next. â" Matthew Everett
Electric Wizard Witchcult Today (Rise Above) Metal die-hards can rest easy. Electric Wizard hasnâ’t released anything for three years, but the band is still making epic, brooding, behemoth songs. â“Black Magic Rituals & Perversion,â” for example, clocks in at 11 minutes, and itâ’s more of a stoner fÃte than the rest of the albumâ’s offerings, reminiscent of 2002â’s Let Us Prey with Jus Oborn and Liz Buckinghamâ’s guitars fuzzed out to the nth degree. Electric Wizard is still one of the heaviest bands in the world.
While not as dirty or wondrously sloppy as 2000â’s Dopethrone, Witchcult Today is still a drone fest, with gloomy, resonant elongations that encapsulate all things cultic and mordantly beautiful. On â“Satanic Rites of Drugula,â” Osbornâ’s eerie echoed vocals affirm the basic tenets of classic doom, the stuff that H.P. Lovecraft would dig.
The drums arenâ’t as prominent or as loud as they once were, back when ex-Iron Monkey member Justin Greaves was behind the throne. The new drummer, Shaun Rutter, can thrash with enough cocksureness to keep things as malignant and foreboding as Electric Wizard should be, but we sure do miss Greavesâ’ methodical stickmanship. Just listen to â’95s â“Mountains of Marsâ” and youâ’ll hear the difference. â" Kevin Crowe
Yeasayer All Hour Cymbals (We Are Free) The Brooklyn-based band Yeasayer borrows openly from pretty much everywhere on its debut albumâ"world music (the first single, â“2080,â” is based on West African rock) and acts that appropriated world music (â“Wait for the Wintertimeâ” is essentially a reworking of Led Zeppelinâ’s â“Kashmir,â” and â“Sunriseâ” sounds like mid-1980s Peter Gabriel), and the high-pitched, largely unintelligible collective vocals arenâ’t much different from those of contemporary bands like TV on the Radio and Arcade Fire. Even snippets of Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Macâ’s Tusk show up on â“No Need to Worryâ” and â“Wait for the Summer.â”
As derivative as the individual pieces are, though, All Hour Cymbals ends up as a distinctive and surprisingly realized work. The bandâ’s got big ideas, marked in part by crusty new-hippie mysticism and a tuned-out transcendental spirituality, but itâ’s also come up with an engaging and accomplished disc. For all their epic scope, the songs are shortâ"the two longest songs are five and a half minutes eachâ"and both the performances and production are sharp. Yeasayerâ’s ambitions could quickly turn silly, but its discipline wins out. â" M.E.
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